High triglyceride levels or hypertriglyceridemia sometimes have no symptoms. However, such levels can be indications of underlying issues. They are also risk factors for various health conditions. People with existing risk factors should take regular tests to monitor high levels and other related issues.
What Is a High Triglyceride Level?
High triglyceride levels are dangerous to any person’s health, like high cholesterol levels. The danger lies in that they often have no symptoms and can remain unattended for quite some time.
Healthcare professionals evaluate total cholesterol by combining low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides levels. LDL is the bad cholesterol, while HDL is the good cholesterol.
If the LDL and triglycerides levels are high, but the HDL level is low, there’s a higher risk of a stroke or heart attack.
High triglyceride levels have three categories:
- Mild – Ranges between 150 and 199 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- Moderate – Ranges between 200 and 499 mg/dL
- Severe – Is higher than 500 mg/dL
A healthy triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg/dL. You’ll get the most accurate reading after fasting for 8 to 12 hours before the test.
Risks of High Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in our bodies. The body produces natural triglycerides, but some come from our food.
The extra calories that the body doesn’t need turn into triglycerides, which can cause levels to peak briefly after meals. If the body doesn’t burn the excess calories, they get stored as fat.
Consistent high triglyceride levels can lead to health conditions such as atherosclerosis. They can also cause cardiovascular issues such as stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
High triglycerides can also cause fat to build up in vital organs like the pancreas or liver. If left untreated, the fat can cause organ dysfunction or inflammation.
What Causes Triglyceride Levels to Fluctuate?
Naturally, triglyceride levels rise and fall due to various factors such as the particular time of day and calories consumed.
Some conditions can cause higher triglyceride levels, such as:
- Obesity or excessive body weight
- Inflammatory diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis
- Unmanaged diabetes and insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Hypothyroidism or low subclinical thyroid
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Kidney or liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Oxidative stress
- Zinc deficiency
- Chronic infections
Some genetic predispositions can also cause high triglycerides, like a family history of high cholesterol. Dietary trends and medication that increase triglyceride levels are such as:
– Excessive calorie consumption
– Excessive sugar and simple carbohydrates from processed foods
– Consuming too many saturated fats
– Excessive alcohol and smoking
– Immunosuppressant drugs
– HIV medication
– hormone medications
How Often Should You Get Triglyceride Tests?
High triglyceride levels become an issue with age as it increases the health risks. Young adults should have a cholesterol test every four to six years without other risk factors.
Children should have a test between age 9 and 11 and a repeat between 17 and 21 years.
Women between 55 to 65 years and men between 45 and 55 years should have the test at least once each year.
If you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, or other risk factors, the tests should be more regular.
The Best Ways to Lower or Prevent High Triglycerides
The best natural solution to high triglycerides is a healthier lifestyle.
By eating healthy, balanced meals, you can lower the triglyceride level quickly. Healthcare professionals recommend reducing your consumption of:
It would help if you consumed more:
– Non-tropical vegetable oils
– Healthy proteins, like seafood, low-fat dairy, fish, and low-fat poultry
– Whole grains, legumes, and nuts
– Fruits and vegetables
§ Regular Exercise
Your goal for every day of the week should be a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity. Exercising helps to reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol while boosting the good cholesterol.
Simple physical activities like walking and climbing stairs have surprising effects.
§ Losing Excessive Weight
Cutting calories is an effective solution to mild or moderate triglyceride levels. You’ll reduce the extra calories that the body converts to triglycerides and later into fat.
§ Opting for Healthier Fats
Instead of consuming saturated fat in meat, switch to healthier plant-based fats. You can try canola oil or olive oil and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and mackerel.
§ Minimize Alcohol Intake
Alcohol often has high sugar and calorie levels, increasing triglycerides in the body.
Other lifestyle adjustments that can lower triglycerides are:
– Controlling diabetes and high blood pressure
– Maintaining a healthy weight and BMI
– Getting sufficient sleep
– Stress management
– Quitting smoking
When to Seek Medical Assistance
Although hypertriglyceridemia has no physical symptoms, the issues that lead to high triglycerides often require attention. If you have had a lipid profile test within the last four to six years, it’s essential to discuss cardiovascular risk factors with your doctor.
Addressing high triglycerides or cholesterol levels early on can help prevent the development of underlying issues. For a more holistic nutritional approach, it’s best to work with experts such as LifeWorks Integrative Health in Kansas City.